The Quiet Signal

It’s important to establish rules and routines at the beginning of the school year, practise them and ensure students understand what is expected. A key routine to your classroom management is how to get your students’ attention. The aim is to get all students to stop what they are doing straight away, be quiet and focus on you, ready for learning or your next direction.

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There are numerous ways to do this; counting down from 5, call and response, whiteboard timers, chimes etc. I love to use a rainstick for this purpose. When I want the students’ attention, I turn my rainstick to get their attention. I love the sound of the rainstick, it is very calming and quite quiet, but a very different noise to the human voice, so even though it is fairly quiet, it can be heard throughout the classroom. You can keep turning the rainstick for however long it takes to get their attention, so there is no time limit (hopefully this time should get shorter the more the students practise this). Best of all, you do not need to use your voice at all! It is important that we try to think of ways to reduce the amount time we talk to give directions to students and to look after and not strain our voices. I particularly love the calming sound of the rainstick and if you have a clear one like mine, then students’ will love watching the little balls fall through it!

So, what do the students do when they hear the rainstick and I have their attention? I have them put both hands on top of their head. I want to make sure that I have their full attention and nothing is in their hands, so this ensures that their hands and empty and they are focusing on myself.

Then I quietly call ‘hands down’ and students are sitting quietly, still, and ready to listen and learn!  What strategy do you use to get your students’ attention?

Secret Walker

Today I’d like to share with you a little tip I have picked up from other teachers and used over the years to keep ALL the students in your class quiet when walking in a line. I find it those transitions times such as change over between lesson, walking to another room in the school building, lining up etc when ‘undesired’ behaviors are most likely to occur. So here is a little tip to help students stay focused when walking in a line.
Slide1-1In my class, we have to move to another area of the school several times a day, be it walking to the outside door for recess, walking to the hall for assembly/phys ed/lunch or collecting their belongings at hometime. First I line my students up. You may have a particular order to do this. I use register order for this. Then I tell my students I am going to choose two ‘Secret Walkers’ (I choose one boy and one girl) but I am keeping my choice secret until the end of the activity or lesson. The Secret Walkers have a special mission to walk in absolute silence, to walk and not run, to stay in single file and to not touch anything on display shelves/bulletin boards etc (add whatever your expectations for great line walking is) on their journey along the corridor. I tell them they will receive a reward if they complete the mission successfully. I give house points as our school has house teams, or it could be a raffle ticket, a sticker or whatever your class rewards and incentives are. The great thing is, all students know that it could be them I have picked, so they all try hard to walk perfectly!

I wait until the lesson or activity is over and we have made our return journey back to the classroom. I then announce who the two Secret Walkers are and tell them whether or not they have completed the mission successfully. If they have then I give then a house point but if they talked/ran etc then I tell them that unfortunately they did not complete the mission that time, as I do not want to give a reward and undermine the system if they did not walk as I expected. But you will find that the majority of the time the students are so keen to complete their ‘secret mission’ in case they have been picked that they will all walk in the line following the expectations you have laid out. This little tip has really helped keep all my students quiet and focused when moving to other parts of the school building.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!